Holocaust jewels get a TV showing

Nilly and Kalmar

Nilly and Kalmar

A young Israeli is urging Manchester's Jews to tell the stories of their family heirlooms after the BBC discovered the tale of her grandmother's buried treasure.

The Antiques Roadshow, which will be filming at Manchester Town Hall on April 4, captured the story of buried jewellery belonging to Tel Avivian Nilly Kalmar.

Ms Kalmar, 31, was visiting the British Museum a year ago, wearing her grandmother's diamond ring, when she came across a BBC crew.

"My grandmother was the only survivor of the Holocaust from her family. She got the ring from her father on her batmitzvah when she was 12," she said.

In 1944, Szuszie Kalmar was captured when the Nazis invaded her town on the Hungarian-Romanian border. Her father buried the family jewels in their garden before they were taken to Auschwitz. Szuszie escaped a death march and returned to her family home to redeem the jewel stash, including her ring.

But in 1958, the ring was nearly lost again when the Communist Romanian government allowed Jews to emigrate to Israel, on condition that all belongings were disowned.

"My grandmother came to Israel with nothing except for her clothes. But she managed to smuggle the jewellery out of Romania," Ms Kalmar said.

"She gave me the ring a year-and-a-half ago on Rosh Hashanah, six months before she died.

"The main thing about objects is that they serve as tools to remember and you can pass them and their stories to your children."

The current series has featured a Manchester woman whose family's Art Deco watch had been returned after her aunt perished in Auschwitz. The platinum and diamond-encrusted timepiece was worth up to £3,000.

But Ms Kalmar said: "I think more than the real value of the ring is the message in our stories and to have them told.

"In Israel you hear these stories all the time, but in Britain it's rarer."

    Last updated: 10:05am, March 18 2011